Welcome, Mary Bottari, the Director of the Real Economy Project of CMD!

Mary Bottari, Real Economy ProjectI am very pleased to announce that Mary Bottari is joining the Center for Media and Democracy. She is the Director of a new project we are calling the "Real Economy Project." (You know, the "real" economy, as opposed to the faux Wall Street-driven economy?)

For those of you who don’t know Mary, she really is a powerhouse — she’s an exceptional public interest advocate with tremendous communications and campaigning experience. For the last ten years, she has served as a senior analyst for the Washington, D.C.,-based consumer group Public Citizen.

She started in its Global Trade Watch division in the months before the World Trade Organization’s Seattle Ministerial meeting. Mary was deeply involved in planning for Seattle, and she ran the NGO press center to help communicate the disillusionment of labor, farm, and environmental groups with the corporate trade agenda.

Before joining Public Citizen, she worked for U.S. Senator Russ Feingold and assisted with the effort to pass the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. You can read more about her bio here.

For CMD, Mary will be tracking the bank bailout and other aspects of the continuing economic crisis, including the jobless recovery. As you know, the financial crisis has been characterized by emergency interventions and complex policy discussions that are completely opaque to average Americans. (As one commenter put it, "TARP, TALF? Let’s call the whole thing off!")

bankstersDue to the complexity of the issues and the lack of clear avenues for input, individual taxpayers have had no meaningful role in shaping the policies being proposed by industry and government. This leaves the "banksters" in the driver’s seat. The goal of the Real Economy Project is to pierce through the spin on these issues and break down dense material about the economy so ordinary people can understand what’s really going on. It will also facilitate your input into these issues in ways that prioritize the interests of Main Street over those of Wall Street.

With the fun and interactive “Banksters” website, which will be launched next month, we’ll be providing a go-to place where you can find news and progressive policy solutions to the crisis. Banksters will also provide access to the best information about vital campaigns you can participate in on these issues that affect your wallet and our future.

This great new project will build a special wiki in CMD's SourceWatch to serve as a resource for articles that tell the real story about companies like Citigroup, Goldman, and AIG, and central figures like Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Ben Bernanke, and more. With the coming fight over reversing the ill-conceived de-regulation of the financial services industry, which is on the congressional docket this autumn, this project is coming at a key moment in this critically important policy debate. And, corporate front groups and spinmeisters are already hard at work trying to convince Congress and the American people that the crisis is over and the need for reform has passed.

So, I’m very excited that CMD is expanding its important work debunking corporate spin while playing a vital role in the health care reform debates with Wendell Potter (our one-man media juggernaut) and on financial services reform — two of the most pressing issues of our time. I would also like to extend a big thanks to CMD’s founder, John Stauber, for persuading Mary to join the Center. Please check out her most recent blog, and join me in welcoming Mary to our team!


Lisa Graves is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy based in Madison, Wisconsin.

Lisa Graves

Lisa Graves is President of the Board of the Center for Media and Democracy and Director of Illumination Investigations. She is a well-known researcher, writer, and public speaker. Her research and analysis have been cited by every major paper in the country and featured in critically acclaimed books and documentaries, including Ava Du Vernay’s award-winning film, “The 13th,” Bill Moyers’s “United States of ALEC,” and Showtime’s “Years of Living Dangerously.”

 

Comments

The U.S. Public Debt went from roughly $1 Trillion in FY 1981 to about $15 Trillion today in FY 2009. The top marginal tax rate was cut from 70% to 50% in 1981 and then to 28% in 1986. It was raised to 31% in 1990...and then to 39.6% in 1992. It was gratuitously cut yet once again in 2001 back to the present 35%. Dan Rostenkowski (D) was the democrat chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee during the Reagan cuts of 1981 & 1986 (70% down to 28%)...and also during the Bush (the father) increase in 1990 (to 31%)...as well as the Clinton increase in 1992 (to 39.6%). William Marshall Thomas (R) was the House Ways & Means Committee chairman in 2001, when the Bush/Cheney White House cut the 8-year Clinton rate back to 35%. Charles Rangel (D) is presently the House Ways & Means Committee Chairman...and he was present during every tax cut for the wealthy and tax increase for the Middle Class since the Reagan years. I believe that the top rate must be returned to at least 70% (above $350,000 in taxable income), i.e., where it was in FY 1981 (it was 91% prior to 1964). I believe that the bottom marginal rate must be a flat rate of 10% (below $350,000 in taxable income)...it was 11% in FY 1981...was raised to 15% in 1986---and a 10% rate was added to the 15% rate in 2001. The ratio of top to bottom marginal rates was 7:1 in 1913 when The Revenue Act of 1913 was signed into law as a result of the ratification of the XVIth Amendment in 1913 (the Constitutional Amendment having been introduced by a republican president and a republican-controlled congress in 1909 to replace import tariffs and strike a deal with the $Billionaires of the early 20th Century). I believe that two rates above and below $350,000 (i.e., 70% & 10% or a ratio of 7:1) would accomplish several important positive fiscal/financial outcomes: 1. Middle Class small businesses would multiply---leading to accelerated economic & jobs growth and reduced unemployment INSIDE the United States for Middle Class Americans. After all, 70% of the U.S. economic base is small businesses (i.e., taxable incomes below $350,000) INSIDE the United States---and NOT OUTSIDE the U.S. where corporations & banks hang out and hire their employees (and where corporations & banks AVOID paying U.S. income taxes)...e.g., China, Jamaica, the Philippines, India, Mexico, Central America et al. 2. Multiplication of Middle Class small businesses would result in an expanded income tax base at the 10% level (something that Reagan/Bush-the-son "trickle-down" promised but never delivered...neither in the 1980's nor in the 2000's). 3. The combination of 1 & 2, above---plus the 70% top marginal rate above $350,000---would wipe out the annual federal budget deficit...which is getting totally out of hand! 4. The combination of 1, 2 & 3, above, COULD result in Middle Class small business health care cooperatives---thus cancelling out the massive health care DIVERSION that is presently sweeping through Congress, the White House (and so called town hall meetings) like wildfire! In other words, the greatest issue facing America today is NOT health care...but rather the UNDERTAXED privileged class (35%) and the OVERTAXED Middle Class (up to 35%). QUESTION: What do you think, Mary? Am I right, wrong...or somewhere in between?

While I agree wholeheartedly with all of the information provided in Ariel's dissertation, I disagree with the conclusion that the Nation's greatest issue is not Healthcare. I quote from Poetic_Badger of open.salon.com: "The Founding Fathers couldn't have been clearer when they said in the Preamble (to our Constitution); "We the people of the United States, in order to establish a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." Promote the General Welfare is a clear assignment of responsibility to citizens to care for each other, they knew that if you cared for the weak it would make us all stronger, and make the US a special place where religions, races, and ethnic groups would all work together for the common cause of a more perfect union. General Welfare covers housing, food, education and health care, these are all the duty of us citizens (the minimal role of government to which we all belong) , and the provision of this General Welfare is part of what they wrote about, it was so important that it is in the first sentence, not added as an improvement like the amendments, but a core feature of our democracy." That said, our government on every level, has failed us miserably in the area of General Welfare, in particular- Public Health. The Previous Administration, (I'll not use the R-Word, as they don't admit responsibility for anything, much less their rhetoric), increased the national debt exponentially to finance the President's private War. The man should be shot by firing squad, following a Summary Court Marshall- once for each American killed or wounded- I digress. We must have Health Care Reform at any cost- those that agreed to fund the War, can say nothing believable regarding the cost of one of our Fundamental Rights. How they manage to live with their war crimes is beyond me. Furthermore, if the Government needs to pay for healthcare they need look no farther than the Energy Companies who have had the use of our irreplaceable Natural Resources nearly free of charge for more than a century. Every barrel of oil and cubic foot of natural gas taken from Public lands belongs to the People- not the Oil and Gas Companies.

I'm a little confused with your suggestion. In your 7:1 ratio, are suggesting to simply flat tax everyone below $350,000 at 10%? That seems hardly fair, although it would free up money both for the middle class and create money flow by people who are just over the $350,000 limit.

Hi, I'm trying to understand how it's fair or sensible for the City of Philadelphia to make a deal with JP Morgan Chase to cover the city's cash flow crisis which was caused by the failure of Wall Street in the first place. I feel this loan is exploitative even though the 3% interest rate, that could escalate to 8% in a few months, is less than consumers pay for mortgages, car loans, or credit cards. I feel it's a talking-point detail about JPMC paying back TARP and reality is that taxpayers continue to make multiple gifts to the banks in many different and expensive ways. How can an average person evaluate this decision? The budget saga has been on-going for a year and by now it's very difficult to understand what's fair, incompetent, or corrupt. I personally believe this confusion is by design. What do you think? http://www.philly.com/inquirer/home_region/20090902_Nutter_says_loan_to_ease_financial_pinch_is_near.html "JPMorgan, one of the most solvent large U.S. banks, has been offering itself as a friend to a number of states and cities in need, having repaid $25 billion in federal Troubled Asset Recovery Program funds. "We're giving state capitols what they need most - capital," JPMorgan said in an ad that ran earlier this week in national and regional newspapers. The bank approached Philadelphia, which had contacted at least two other banks that declined. Under the loan plan, the city would repay the money at interest rates of 3 percent until Nov. 30 and 8 percent afterward. But Nutter said he expected to refinance the loan before the rate increased. The bills pending before the General Assembly would give the city $700 million in revenue. The unusual borrowing was prompted by the lack of a state budget, which prevents the city from getting more than $100 million in anticipated revenue. Pending legislation would temporarily raise the city sales tax and allow Philadelphia to defer pension payments for two years. City officials opted for the bank loan because they figured Philadelphia couldn't attract investors to fund a "tax-revenue-anticipation note," which last year carried a 2 percent interest rate."

This is a continuation of the downhill fiscal and financial slide facing virtually every landscape in America...rural, suburban and urban. The very first seed was planted in 1964, growing into an unhealthy tree that could not be distinguished from the healthy ones then surrounding it (the latter being the ones planted after 1945). From that single toxic tree fell cancerous seeds in 1981 and 1986...seeds that took root and began choking the life out of a heretofore healthy forest. There were brief attempts in 1990 and 1992 to eradicate the unhealthy scourge running rampant across America's fiscal and financial landscape. However, those attempts were completely short circuited in 2001...owing to the single December 12, 2000, swing vote of the supreme Court. The American voting electorate managed to eke out a 53% "mandate" for complete eradication in 2008. The question is, "When will the elected eradicator step back from the trees and look at just how sick the forest has become...just how cloudy the big picture's horizon presently is?" It seems that even new nonnative species have been imported by the descendants of that mad Johnny Appleseed of 1964...and by his descendants in 1981, 1986...and in 2001 when even more toxically expensive species were imported---their shipping containers harboring the nonnative diversionary pipe dreams of "democracy" in SW Asia and "universal" health care in America.

This is a continuation of the downhill fiscal and financial slide facing virtually every landscape in America...rural, suburban and urban. The very first seed was planted in 1964, growing into an unhealthy tree that could not be distinguished from the healthy ones then surrounding it (the latter being the ones planted after 1945). From that single toxic tree fell cancerous seeds in 1981 and 1986...seeds that took root and began choking the life out of a heretofore healthy forest. There were brief attempts in 1990 and 1992 to eradicate the unhealthy scourge running rampant across America's fiscal and financial landscape. However, those attempts were completely short circuited in 2001...owing to the single December 12, 2000, swing vote of the supreme Court. The American voting electorate managed to eke out a 53% "mandate" for complete eradication in 2008. The question is, "When will the elected eradicator step back from the trees and look at just how sick the forest has become...just how cloudy the big picture's horizon presently is?" It seems that even new nonnative species have been imported by the descendants of that mad Johnny Appleseed of 1964...and by his descendants in 1981, 1986...and in 2001 when even more toxically expensive species were imported---their shipping containers harboring the nonnative diversionary pipe dreams of "democracy" in SW Asia and "universal" health care in America.

Hi Mary. Will you be responding to my question?